Month: January 2012

159. Stanton Friedman on Extended Human Consciousness and Mind Control

UFO researcher sees evidence of telepathy in the accounts of UFO witnesses. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Stanton Friedman, author of Science Was Wrong.  During the interview Friedman discusses the implications of his research for human consciousness: Alex Tsakiris: I want to talk about extended consciousness in terms of the research you’ve done because there’s this whole controversy within the field that wants to push everything into the psycho-social explanation. But at the same time we do have to acknowledge, as you did in your work with the famous abduction case of Betty and Barney Hill that we do have reports of telepathy, mind control, psychokinesis, and all the rest. I’m wondering what that evidence tells us about ourselves and our human capabilities that extend beyond what we normally think of as our conscious experience. Stanton Friedman: Well, it’s a very important point because I’m convinced that any advanced civilization will know about telepathy and mind control and communication at a distance. It really came home to me when I was standing at the exact location where Barney Hill was standing when the saucer was over their car and he’s looking through binoculars at the crew on board. For no good reason, they jumped back in the car, very frightened, and they get off the main road, Route 3, and they go onto a secondary road. Then they go onto a dirt road --which Barney would never have done. And he winds up alongside the only place in the area where you could land a, let’s say 80-foot in diameter, flying saucer. It was a sandy area, there were trees all over the place, but this area was big enough to get a saucer like the one they described down. It was clear proof to me that these guys were directing his actions. It seems to me eminently clear that these guys have capabilities—as the only simple term I know—to do things that we don’t look upon as being respectable. Such as mind-reading, mind control, and getting people to forget. Stanton Friedman's Website Play It: Download MP3 (50:00 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today’s guest was a nuclear physicist before becoming one of the best known and most well informed UFO researchers. I’m talking about Stanton Friedman and Stan, it’s a great pleasure and an honor to welcome you here today on Skeptiko. Stanton Friedman: I appreciate that. I always like doing it. I grew up with radio. I’m one of the old guys, you know. Put the pictures in my head instead of on a tube.


158. Bernardo Kastrup’s Controversial View of Consciousness Research

Author and scientist sees pattern of decreased brain activity during peak experiences. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Bernardo Kastrup, author of Meaning in Absurdity.  During the interview Kastrup discusses his beliefs about human consciousness: Alex Tsakiris: You make some interesting connections between the "fainting game", erotic asphyxiation  and some new research with psychedelic mushrooms. You suggest that when we really look at what’s going on in the brain we actually see a dampening down of brain areas – the opposite of what we would expect. So what are the implications of this in terms of this idea of filtering of consciousness? Bernardo Kastrup: The current paradigm says that conscious experience is an epiphenomenon, a by-product, of brain activity. So you should always be able to find a tight correlation between conscious states as reported by the subject and measurable brain states as measured, for instance, with an FMRI scanner. Usually this correlation is there, but there are instances, like this study you mentioned, where this correlation is not there in a very spectacular and repeatable way. What it suggests is that we have to find another model of reality, if you will, to accommodate this. A model that accommodates both the fact that normally, ordinarily, conscious experience is modulated by brain states, but also sometimes there is a lack of correlation in a spectacular way. Alex Tsakiris: So these anomalies you’re talking about, for example, with psilocybin and reduced brain functioning, or brain injuries that lead to increased consciousness, these have to be explained. We can’t just sweep them off the table and say, “well, materialism seems to work pretty well in the general sense,” right? Bernardo Kastrup: These anomalies are major anomalies. They are gigantic anomalies. The only way we can get away with them and still honestly believe in the materialistic paradigm as many of us do is because that paradigm embodies an approach of looking upon the world that is a third-person perspective. In other words, it’s not through personal experience but through reports and measurements. Metaphysical Speculations Website Play It: Download MP3 (48:00 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today’s guest is an author, blogger, an entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in computer engineering and all-around fascinating guy, Bernardo Kastrup. Welcome to Skeptiko. Bernardo Kastrup: Thanks, Alex. It’s a pleasure to be here.


157. Spirit Medium August Goforth Skeptical of Reincarnation

Psychotherapist and Medium claims communication with spirits reveals no reincarnation. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with August Goforth, author of The Risen.  During the interview Goforth discusses his beliefs about reincarnation: Alex Tsakiris: You said that through your communication with on the other side that reincarnation isn’t a core part of the overall spiritual plan. Could you be wrong? August Goforth: I have a huge library of books written by mediums and spiritualists that go back almost a couple hundred years. I noticed not a single one mentioned reincarnation. Alex Tsakiris: I’ve spoken to plenty of mediums and many of them have talked matter-of-factly about reincarnation as being a reality.  And I’m a little bit familiar with some of the medium literature out there, and I think the idea of reincarnation comes up quite a bit. August Goforth: It does now. It’s only been maybe in the past 10 years. I would also suggest that it’s a function of the ego-mind that invents these ideas about reincarnation because of its fear of losing its own consciousness. I may have these dreams or these feelings about an experience of being someone from the 14th Century and I get names and I get all kinds of facts and dates and rather than separating myself from it, there’s something about me--the ego-mind will do this, it will grab onto it and sort of put it on like a costume and say, “Okay, this is me. I’m having a past-life experience.” Me not realizing consciously that I just experienced someone else’s life and they told me about their life in a dream or an astral experience. When I woke up, somehow it became very blurred and I had this desire because I don’t want to die, I want to live on, that if I can convince myself that I had these past lives that gives me a sense of continuity. It gives me a sense of feeling alive and grounded. I feel more expanded. Alex Tsakiris: For reincarnation the best scientific work—and I’m sure you’re familiar with it—is the work of Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia and now Jim Tucker at the University of Virginia has followed up on this work. They have thousands at this point of cases of well-documented reincarnation accounts. It’s quite a body of research; it’s very impressive to anyone who looks at it. So I can listen to what you’re saying and I can be open to hearing it, but how do we resolve that? How do we resolve that when it brushes against what I think is some good, down-to-earth science that I can really lay my hands on? August Goforth: I don’t know. These are just suggestions of how I’m interpreting what information has come to me as best as I can. My bias, if any, is that I’m not interested myself in reincarnation and God – no – I don’t want to come back to this place. But there are people who do or have a belief. It’s a core belief in some way or it’s necessary. But it seems more and more to me that everyone’s experience, whatever it is, is ultimately their own final test of what’s true for them. The Risen Website Play It: Download MP3 (29:00 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: What Skeptiko is about is really three things. First, it’s about understanding the overwhelming scientific evidence that consciousness survives death. So if you just, from a science standpoint, if you look medically people die. They are brought back to life. And they have these incredible encounters with what happened when they had no brain, which means they were dead. August Goforth: About the survival of consciousness, yeah.